Sun, Jan 16, 2005 - Page 3 News List

DPP keeping tight-lipped on premiership candidates

SPECULATION Although media rumors suggest that Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh could be the next premier, the DPP wouldn't comment on the issue

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) once again emphasized the importance of cross-party collaboration yesterday, although it again avoided talking about prospective candidates for the premiership.

Local media reported yesterday that Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) would become the next premier, that the decision was made at the end of December and that People First Party chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) would become the head of the Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development (兩岸和平發展委員會).

Asked for comments by reporters, Hsieh said "I may be one of the candidates for the premiership."

But Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) later said that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was still mulling possible candidates.

"The president is still gathering opinions from all circles about who should be the next premier, and if [newly-elected DPP legislators] have an opinion regarding the premiership, they can come talk to me, but not here and now because there are a lot of reporters present," Lu said.

Lu made the statement during the DPP's policy symposium for newly-elected legislators held at the Grand Hotel yesterday.

When he appeared at the event, Premier Yu Shyi-kun said he would not comment on the issue. DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) also refused to comment.

"I respect the president's right to nominate the new premier, and the new premier's right to form the new Cabinet. I don't have any right to comment on this," Chang said.

The rumor about Hsieh's possible takeover of the premiership has raised speculation about who would take over his position as Kaohsiung City mayor. It has been reported that former interior minister, Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲), is very eager to secure that post.

Meanwhile, Chang also said that the DPP's efforts on cross-party collaboration and harmony were flexible.

"We hope that the Legislative Yuan can promote cross-party harmony and we will also stick to this principle regarding the premiership and the Cabinet," Chang said.

When asked about whether Soong would become the head of the Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development, Chang said that one could only guess.

Also yesterday, the People First Party (PFP) caucus played down the possibility that Soong could head the cross-strait committee.

"The PFP has not received information about any of its members becoming part of the Cabinet, and all related reports are just rumors," PFP caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said.

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